Is the practice of medicine more of an art or an applied science? It’s a debate patients may not even know is taking place. But the way your primary care physician, surgeon or hospital answers this question may determine whether you live or die. Doctors on the far “art” side of the spectrum maintain that every patient and physician is different. Therefore, they believe there is no one right way to treat ...

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In recent months, there has been a lot of talk on social media and in the press about how miserable many doctors are. These conversations have also brought inspiring alternatives to the forefront. For example, Zubin Damania, MD, founder of Turntable Health, and Pamela Wible, MD, a leader in the Ideal Practice movement, have notably and smartly encouraged doctors practicing on the front lines to take matters into ...

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In an effort to promote transparency in healthcare, the Association of Health Care Journalists (AHCJ) has published a database of recent hospital deficiencies discovered by Medicare and Medicaid  inspectors. They then highlighted 168 reports containing the phrase “immediate jeopardy.” This, of course, piqued my interest as I presumed that hospitals who were putting putting patients in “immediate jeopardy” must be some pretty bad actors. After sifting through the hospital names, I ...

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As an emergency physician used to working in busy, urban ERs, I like to think that I’m not easily surprised. The other day, someone did something that really amazed me. Our patient was a young woman who had a headache and requested medications to take it away. On an average ER shift, we see dozens of patients with similar complaints to hers. On busy days, the evaluation and treatment become rote: ...

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Imagine this:  You are sick.  You are the sickest you’ve ever been.  You want to die.  You almost did die.  You want to bury your head in your cozy bed for the next two years. But you’re not in your bed.  This bed has plastic for covers and sandpaper for sheets.  You need to throw up every thirty minutes but you have to share a bathroom with someone you don’t know, ...

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For days, I have been trying to get long-term patient, Stan, on the phone; his blood work came back abnormal, and we need to repeat it.  I called the number in our file a bunch of times. The odd thing is that sometimes it rings without stopping, sometimes it is answered by a machine, which immediately beeps and disconnects, and at least once it sounded as if the receiver was ...

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Disruptive innovation is competitive strategy for an age seized by terror. - Jill Lepore, author of The Disruption Machine: What the Theory of Innovation Gets Wrong "What do you want me to do with all the stuff in this box?" my wife asked this weekend. I looked inside and saw my former self: one of BNC and pin connectors, wires, a notebook with sin, cos, theta, and a host of other equations -- a ...

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When school boards fancy themselves health care providers I met Madelyn for the first time last month in clinic. Six months prior, she was an otherwise healthy 14-year-old girl. One afternoon, Madelyn’s phys ed teacher led a gym class aimed at completing fitness and health assessments on all of the children in the grade. One at a time, each child was asked to step up and onto a scale ...

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There’s no good age to die. Way too many of the patients I’ve seen over the past two years are harrowingly close to my own age. I think it’s less startling to hear that an older person has cancer than when a young person is diagnosed, but I have yet to identify the age when this transition happens. Maybe it’s an unspoken understanding that older people die and younger people shouldn’t, but ...

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Let me show you four simple steps, requiring just 15 seconds, that will turn a patient thank you into a two-way healing encounter of the highest order. It is incredibly easy for a thank you from a patient to slip by during a busy day in the office. We can get so caught up in the blizzard of clinical tasks we fail to hear what the patient is trying to communicate. We don’t ...

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